An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Thursday ruled that founder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Altaf Hussain ordered the killing of fellow party leader Dr Imran Farooq in the UK in 2010.
Farooq was found dead outside his Green Lane house in north London in September 2010, a month after another senior MQM leader, Raza Haidar, was assassinated in Karachi.
In the high-profile case's judgment on Thursday, Islamabad-based Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Shahrukh Arjumand said it was "proved that Altaf Hussain had ordered the killing of Dr Imran Farooq".
The court handed life imprisonment and fine of Rs 2 million on convicted men Khalid Shamim, Mohsin Ali and Moazzam Ali. It further directed them to pay Rs 1 million each to the deceased's family.
The court declared Altaf Hussain, Iftikhar Hussain, Mohammad Anwar and Kashif Kamran as absconders for not appearing during the trial.
The judge said the absconders should be "traced, arrested and brought before court as soon as possible."
The court said Moazzam Ali and Khalid Shamim engaged Mohsin Ali and Kashif Kamran to kill Farooq. They went to London from Karachi where they were facilitated by the MQM leadership to carry out the killing.
"The act of abettors and executors was preconceived with a design to intimidate and overawe the public in general and workers of the MQM in particular so that in the future no one can raise (their) voice against Altaf Hussain," according to the judgment.
The British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner said the conviction "marked a team effort between law agencies in the UK and Pakistan working together to get justice for the murder of Dr Imran Farooq". He said that the conviction came about after a "ground-breaking piece of collaboration" between the two countries, which allowed evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police to be shared with the Pakistani prosecutors and be presented as part of their case and used in the successful prosecution of Mohsin Ali Syed.
The hearing went on for years due to non-availability of evidence. British officials were apprehensive as they believed the accused ma be given a death sentence, according to official sources.
However, the two governments continued to engage and vital proof was shared with the court. The trial concluded last month.
The case was registered by the Federal Investigation Agency in 2015 against Altaf Hussain for allegedly ordering the murder. Khalid Shamim, Mohsin Ali and Moazzam Ali were nominated in the matter.
Hussain fled Pakistan in 1992 and has been living in the UK ever since. Farooq left Pakistan in 1999 after he was named in a number of court cases.
The Karachi-based MQM was formed in the early 1980s with the objective to fight for the rights of the city's Urdu-speaking people. However, the party was soon involved in violent activities.
Farooq was among the members funding the party's activities. He was killed at a time when his name started to feature in the party's senior-most levels.